Now this is how you make the competition pee bricks
Researcher wins prestigious innovation award after striking ‘liquid gold’ when he turned urine into building material
Many only consider the importance of urine when they are facing health disorders that require urine tests. But a University of Cape Town researcher and chemical engineer has shown there is more to this “liquid gold” than meets the eye, using urine to make innovative building material.
Associate professor Dyllon Randall’s work in making bio-bricks from urine is receiving attention after he won a prestigious innovation award – the SA Institution of Chemical Engineers (SAIChE) 2021 innovation award – for developing the environmentally friendly brick, which also produces a fertiliser as its byproduct.
Bio-bricks are produced through a natural process called carbonate precipitation, which involves the collection of urine, stabilising it by keeping the urea in solution, and passing it through a reactor mould. Loose sand, including lime, is colonised with bacteria that produce an enzyme called urease, which breaks down the urea in urine while producing calcium carbonate through a complex chemical reaction. This cements the sand into a solid brick...